The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Women's basketball stays hot in return home, defeats No. 14 Maryland

<p>Senior guard Te-Hina Paopao directs traffic as she brings up the ball for the Gamecocks in its game against Maryland at Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 12, 2023. The Gamecocks won 114-76.</p>
Senior guard Te-Hina Paopao directs traffic as she brings up the ball for the Gamecocks in its game against Maryland at Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 12, 2023. The Gamecocks won 114-76.

The No. 6 South Carolina women’s basketball team picked up where it left off in the team's first game back from Paris, defeating No. 14 Maryland 114-76.


The game was a rematch between the two teams going back to the 2023 NCAA Tournament, where South Carolina took down Maryland in the Elite Eight.

Likewise, both schools entered the game having lost key pieces from last year's team. The top two picks in the 2023 WNBA draft came from these schools with Aliyah Boston going first and Diamond Miller second. 

The first half was a neck-and-neck effort that saw the Gamecocks begin to pull away toward the end of the second quarter, resulting in a 48-36 South Carolina lead heading into halftime. Both teams were trading 3-pointers throughout the quarter, but the Gamecocks began forcing turnovers late in the half and capitalized off of those mistakes. 

The Gamecocks' offense pulled away with the score in the second half, outscoring the Terrapins 66-40 in lopsided fashion. South Carolina dominated the offensive and defensive glass, out-rebounding Maryland 53-33 in the game while shooting 52% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line. 

The Gamecocks continued to look like an offensive wagon early in the season, scoring at least 100 points in consecutive games against ranked opponents. Seven different players reached double figures, while sophomore forwards Chloe Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins each tallied double-doubles. 

“The more we have these types of games, the more confidence they're gaining as a collective unit,” head coach Dawn Staley said.

The team's depth is impressive, Staley said, who coached her team to a 38-point victory without heavily relying on senior center Kamilla Cardoso or senior guard Te-Hina Paopao.

“They’re playing together," Staley said. "They have buy-in with each other. They have buy-in with our coaching staff.” 

Watkins made her mark, coming off the bench and scoring 13 points and 11 rebounds, while also tallying a career-high five blocks. Her impact on both sides was undeniably a force for the Gamecocks. 

Kitts finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds of her own to earn her first career double-double, with three of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. She provided the interior impact that was left as Cardoso spent time on the bench in foul trouble. 

“We’re not going to get too comfortable," Kitts said. “We know we have a full season ahead of us and just because we won these two games against these two opponents does not make us comfortable.”

Among those with a strong impact off the bench was freshman guard Tessa Johnson, who tallied 12 points with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, filling the stat sheet. After only scoring 1 point in 12 minutes against Notre Dame, Johnson showed out in her Colonial Life debut. 

“I actually think (the Gamecocks are) better than last year’s team,” said Maryland head coach Brenda Frese

With the win, South Carolina improved to 2-0 on the season. The No. 6 Gamecocks will be back for the "Battle of the Palmetto State" when the team faces the Clemson Tigers at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 at Colonial Life Arena. 


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